view sourceprint? 01 Ramblings from a Ranch Wife: 2013

Random Thought:

"The darkest nights produce the brightest stars"

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Me in a Nutshell

My favorite candy holiday is Easter.  Who doesn't love Mini Cadbury Eggs and Peeps?

I only like the pink and yellow peeps though.  The blue ones look like they are suffocating under the cellophane wrapper, and the green ones look like they've gone bad.  Purple are okay in a pinch.

I threaten my kids with taking away Christmas to make them behave but it never works.

I love listening to the cowboss read to the boys at night after he tucks them and the puppies into bed.

I look forward to TR getting home from school at night, almost as much as I look forward to him getting on the bus in the morning!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lean Finely Textured Beef

I have started to branch out with my writing career.  This is an article of mine recently published in the Nevada Rancher.  The magazine isn't on line and I've had a few requests for this article, so I thought I would share it here!  Enjoy!

Recently on a social media site there was a post claiming that a certain fast food chain “is changing the recipe for their hamburgers.”  Jaime Oliver (a British chef/media personality who has made it his mission to prevent the use of processed foods in our American school systems), claims “the fatty parts of beef are “washed” in ammonium hydroxide and used in the filling of their hamburgers.”  He calls this the “Pink Slime Process.” 

When heifers make weight they will be shipped to the feedlot to finish and then to a harvesting facility.  Before being portioned, they are misted with ammonium hydroxide to prevent bacterial growth.

There is no “pink slime” in hamburgers.  The correct term is Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB).  LFTB is lean meat that is used in part to make ground beef.  Ground beef is made up of lean beef trimmings and other beef trimmings that are combined and ground together.  The benefit of LFTB is that the fat from the lean in the beef trimmings is separated from the meat and we are able to make a leaner and more affordable ground beef. 

Unfortunately, it is impossible to trim the meat from the fat by hand.  This is where technology comes in.  Before this technology was utilized, roughly 13 pounds of beef was wasted on each carcass.  When beef carcasses are portioned, the pieces that are cut off often have lean meat remaining.  It is virtually impossible (not to mention time consuming) to manually remove the meat from the fat by hand.  To separate the fat from the meat, the trimmings are warmed to their pre-chilled temperature, and then sent to a centrifuge where the fat is removed using a centrifugal force (think spun really really fast until the meat and the fat separate, similar to how milk and cream are separated).  You now have a meat product that is 94% to 97% lean.  It is 100% beef and fully inspected and regulated by the USDA.

Ammonium Hydroxide is another phrase that is used to scare people.  You know ammonia is used in several household cleaning agents and fertilizers.  It is toxic and if mixed with bleach a toxic gas will result.  Did you know that ammonium hydroxide is naturally found in beef, other proteins, and virtually all foods?  So what is ammonium hydroxide? Ammonium hydroxide is a combination of ammonia and water, two things that naturally occur in our bodies.  It is administered in the form of a puff gas which is misted over each carcass, and is used to slightly raise the pH on the surface of beef (where bacteria and germs like to congregate) to create an environment that prevents the growth of deadly pathogens like E coli and salmonella, helping to prevent bacterial contamination of our food. 

Ammonia based compounds are naturally occurring and found in every component of a bacon cheese burger.  In fact, the beef in a bacon cheese burger makes up about 9% of the total 2,013 ppm (parts per million) of ammonium hydroxide in that burger.  It is estimated that people ingest about 17 grams of ammonia daily.  Essentially you could consume 1,000 hamburger patties containing LFTB daily without any adverse effects.
Ammonia based compounds are naturally occurring and can be found in every component of a bacon cheeseburger (bun, bacon, cheese, condiments, and beef). 
According to the World Health Organization, the world population is increasing by 220,000 people every day.  Red meat consumption is rising and the available supply is declining.  LFTB production makes it possible to have more of the leaner ground beef blends consumers want at an affordable price.  If LFTB were not produced, it would be equivalent to throwing 5,700 cattle away each day.  In an era where thousands of Americans do not have access to enough food and we are encouraged to conserve our resources, utilizing lean finely textured beef makes a lot of sense to me.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hamburger Biscuit Roll

Today is Meat Eater Monday!  I am eating leftover Hamburger Biscuit Rolls for breakfast, and let me tell you, they are heaven in your mouth!  I need to do laundry, school work, and get something figured out for dinner tonight. I am overwhelmed, in a funk, and fighting a headache.  I am drowning my sorrows in carbs and comfort foods.  For me, beef is a comfort food.  It just makes me feel better about things, and I can justify eating half a pan of these beef rolls because they have to be better for you than Twinkies, right?

It blows my mind when my college students tell me that they can't cook.  I want to grab them by the shoulders, look them straight in the eye and ask "Can you read?"  Frankly, cooking is easy.  As long as you can read and have an oven that works, you should be able to cook.  I grew up in a family of wonderful cooks, and remember being not much older than my sons helping my mom and cousin Margie baking cookies and things like that.  Not only are my family wonderful cooks, our entire community are wonderful cooks.  They've published 3 cookbooks and they are my go to whenever I need to make something and I'm not sure quite where to start.

All 3 Mountain City Homemaker Cookbooks
As you can tell, mine are well used.  I have a rubber band holding the first one together, and half of the binding is missing from the 3rd cookbook.  Today's recipe comes from the 2nd cookbook.  It is so easy, it's almost embarrassing!

Hamburger Biscuit Roll

1 lb ground beef
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 tbsp. green pepper
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. catsup 
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 3gg

Biscuit Dough:
2 c. Flour
4 tbsp. shortening
3/4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. milk

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk

Make biscuit dough (you can substitute Bisquick biscuits and make one batch).  Roll out dough in a 12"x18" sheet. 

I wouldn't recommend using your canvass rolling sheet like I did.  The next step involves putting raw hamburger directly onto the sheet, never a good idea unless you wash your rolling pin and sheet everytime you use it.

Next, mix ground beef and remaining ingredients, excluding gravy.

I used the same bowl I mixed the dough in because I am lazy like that and hate, hate, hate washing dishes!  Spread meat mixture on to dough.

Roll up like a cinnamon roll and cut into 12 pieces.  Before cutting them, I moved them to a cutting board.  

Place in a greased baking pan and bake about 40 minutes at 350*.

Just before removing from the oven, combine soup and milk in a small sauce pan and bring almost to a boil.

Pour over rolls and serve hot!

They are so easy, and tasty, even TR and QT liked them!  I served them with a simple green salad with a sweet and tangy dressing and canned green beans.

Forgive my pictures, they are really bad!  

What kind of meat are you enjoying today?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mama's Broken Heart

The boys watched Black Beauty the other night.  I won't watch the movie.  I'm afraid it will be too different from the book by Anna Sewell, and frankly, the book makes me cry.  (If you've spent your entire life under a rock and are unfamiliar with the story, here is a little recap: "As a young horse, Black Beauty is well-loved and happy. But when his owner is forced to sell him, his life changes drastically. He has many new owners--some of them cruel and some of them kind. All he needs is someone to love him again...
Whether pulling an elegant carriage or a ramshackle cab, Black Beauty tries to live as best he can. This is his amazing story, told as only he could tell it.").  So I hid out upstairs, trying not to think about it.

Here is a trailer to the movie:

When the movie ended QT came upstairs and found me, on the verge of tears.  I asked "What's the matter?"  With a slight stutter and quivering lip he told me "Ginger died," and with that he broke down into sobs.  I did my best (not to start crying myself, and) to explain that while it was very sad that she died, it was just a story and not real life.  That seemed to make things a little better, so with a big hug, I sent him on his way to get ready for bed.

I heard TR sobbing before I found him.  He grabbed me in a big bear hug and wouldn't let go.  I asked him "Are you upset about Ginger too?"  He nodded and told me between sobs "Ginger is dead and they didn't take very good care of her."  If the boys being upset that Ginger died bothered me, TR's comment broke my heart.  I want them to think there is good in the world and not to notice all of the bad just yet.  I want them to think everyone takes care of their animals like mom and dad do, and nobody or animal anywhere is mistreated.

I tried again to explain to him that it was just a story and not real life, which he understood.  It just really bothered him that the horse was mistreated.  I told him that I was proud of him for realizing that Ginger was mistreated and that he knew that it was wrong to treat any animal like that.  I shared with him this quote from Black Beauty, which is actually one of my favorite quotes ever:   “My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”  ~Anna Sewell  I tried my best to explain to him that we should always try to prevent wrong doing when we see it because if we don't, we are just as wrong as the wrong doer.  

I am happy that they are growing up and able to comprehend what they are seeing and hearing, and willing to come to me when something bothers them.  I'm glad (to an extent) that they cried when Ginger died.  It tells me that they are compassionate and hope nothing ever happens to change that!

The Cowboss and I are currently compiling a list of movies and books to not watch or read with the boys.  So far it includes Where the Red Fern Grows and Old Yeller.  Please let me know if you have any other suggestions of sad stories to avoid.  This mama can't handle too much of this!


The Cowboss had to help a neighbor ship some cows this morning and it was up to the boys and I to feed the calves.  It should have been fairly easy, pitch 1 1/2 big bales of hay off the wagon.  The wagon was loaded, so all we had to do was drive in a straight line and kick off hay.  As you can tell, our line isn't straight, and it took about twice as far to pitch the hay as a normal day.

Kind of makes sense when you see who was driving!  Atleast we didn't dump any bales off the wagon and we didn't hit the fence or tear anything up!

Monday, October 28, 2013


(Photo courtesy of Heidi Stevens)

I'd like to tell you about my friend Cricket.  He came into my life at a point I really needed a friend. He taught me how to pick my battles, when to push buttons, and when to be patient.  He has tolerated my short comings, been patient with me when I didn't deserve it, and showed me that no matter your size, knowledge, or ability that you can do anything you set your mind to.  To be honest, he's been one of the best friends I have ever had.

I made some very poor decisions when I started my teaching career, and I pretty much set myself up for failure.  Maybe I shouldn't have been a teacher at all.  I do know for sure, I shouldn't have started teaching in the school that I did.  I was the 6th Ag Teacher in 3 years and the Ag Program was pretty much nonexistent. I would have been more successful as a teacher if I would have gained some experience in a developed Ag Program under some experienced Ag Teachers instead of trying to do it by myself.  I was very green, and other than a little substitute teaching, had no teaching experience at all.  I didn't have the experience needed to succeed, and I didn't know how or who to ask for help.  I was ready to be done after my first year.  I stuck around for a second year hoping that it would get easier.

Cricket and I kind of saved each other the summer between my first and second years teaching.  My dad didn't like the little sorrel gelding that was standoffish and not very friendly and was going to chicken feed him.  Something about him spoke to me and I traded my bridle horse to dad for him. My brother put a handful of rides on him for me, and as soon as my summer break began I was up before 5 every morning to go and ride my colt.  Those early morning rides are when I learned to pick my battles.  If I picked at him too much, he let me know and could dump me on my tail.  I also learned that if I couldn't get the response I wanted doing things one way, I had to figure out a different way to do it.  I think he made me a better teacher.  I know he made me a better rider.

At the end of the school year I knew teaching High School wasn't for me and I resigned.  I was engaged to the Cow Boss by then and decided to work for him instead.  Cricket and I loaded up and moved to a remote cow-camp to begin our cowboy and cow horse careers.  I rode him every 3rd day because if I let him go 4 days, he would be humpy and try to buck me off.  We did that for a year. We learned to head and heel calves and how to work together.  By the time he was 4, often I was riding the youngest horse in the crew, but also the best broke, and by the time he was 5, I was letting my youngest stepdaughter ride him around the round pen.  When my dog was ready for a ride, he would put his front feet on Cricket's shoulder and I would drag him up the side of Cricket, and into the saddle.  When TR was a baby, Cricket packed us like he was carrying a basket of eggs and never took a bad step.  When the boys got a little bigger and I was riding him, all they had to do was walk up and put a hand on his shoulder and he would stand while they climbed up his side to sit in the saddle with me.  He's been my go to horse for roping bulls, packing kids, or branding contests in town.

Last week I gave Cricket away.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, and I almost cried after I told TR that from here on out Cricket would be his horse.  Foolish I know because he isn't leaving the place and I can see (and probably "borrow" him whenever I want to).  I think it was hard because I now have to find another horse that I can click with like I did with Cricket.  More importantly,  it means my little man is growing up.  He's graduated to a "real" horse, something that he is going to have to pay attention to and really learn how to ride, not just sit on.  Cricket will let him think for himself now.  It also means that he will be starting to rope off a horse soon, and I'm afraid if I blink he will be all grown up!

I hope that Cricket can teach him patience, to try new things, and take care of my little man as he learns how to rope and more about riding.  I hope he can be the friend to TR that he has been to me as well.  I pray that Cricket will have patience with TR when he gives him the wrong cue and is frustrated because he isn't getting the response he wants, and when TR does "dumb kid" things that kids are bound to do, he remembers that TR is just a "dumb kid" and still learning.  I hope he will take care of TR and make every ride a pleasant learning experiece so that TR continues to enjoy riding.

(Photo courtesy of Heidi Stevens)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pay Day

In ranching, payday doesn’t come every Friday, every two weeks, or even monthly.  Payday comes in the fall when you sell your calves.  It is also the time of year that you get to see what all of your hard work over the past 12 months has been for.  The late nights calving with no sleep, the cold below zero mornings feeding cows, and late dinners during cow work have all been for this.  I have to tell you, watching the gate of a cattle truck close on that last animal feels pretty good.

Up until recently for the Cow Boss and me, selling our calves consisted of a rushed trip to Twin Falls with a horse trailer loaded with a handful of uneven steers and heifer calves.  It was more stressful than pleasant, worrying about if we would get enough for them to pay the pasture bill for the year.  This fall is different.

Last spring an opportunity fell into our laps to buy some heifer calves.  The plan was to breed them this summer and sell part as bred heifers and keep part to increase our herd.  We had a place to run them, our only obstacle was getting the money to buy them.  We have learned a lot about equity, operating loans, balance sheets, and how to fill out loan applications.

This week, we shipped our heifers we sold.  We had enough for ½ a truck load and were able to split a truck with the ranch we work for.  It’s the first time we've had a semi for our own cattle.  I can now tell you, watching our own heifers load on a truck and the gate closing feels really good, and we are on the hunt for more heifers to buy!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Favorite Movie Quotes

It is an old movie kind of weekend.  Do you recognize any of these, and can you tell me what they have in common?

Sir!... Sir!... Here's a good stick, to beat the lovely lady.

“Vindicator, you've got to stand on your own four feet. I mean it! You're a British bull with uncommon good sense and fine ancestors. We've had some fine times together. Now you've got to prove yourself and prove that Father was right. Go on.

“You've caused a lot of trouble this morning might have got somebody killed. Somebody oughta belt you in the mouth but I won’t, I won’t to hell I won’t!”

“Sorry, ma'am. Back in Louisiana, when we meet any pretty ladies, we make love to them, we kiss them, spank 'em on occasion... but we never go around shootin' 'em.

 Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to. Don't you see? It's not just Kris that's on trial, it's everything he stands for. It's kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles.

Martha Evans: What on earth are they doing?
Charles Ellsworth: It's called bulldogging, ma'am. That's Bulldog Burnett. He works for my outfit.
Hilary Price: Well, it's a perfectly silly way to handle cattle if you ask me.

Things That Make Me Smile

Picking up 2 feet with both Twain and the Cowboss neck calves at the same time and I'm the only other roper in the trap while the rest of the crew is trying to psych me out.

Cuddling with QT in the pickup while we wait for the Cowboss and Twain to get back from putting cattle away.

Watching Sheldon (Big Bang Theory) with my boys.

Indian Paint Brush, Wild Onions, Arrowleaf Balsam Root.

TR coming to the branding fire and saying "Ok mom, I'm ready to work," then helping give the Nasalgen vaccine during the first 30 calves.

Knowing I have blue painted toenails with little white flowers inside my cowboy boots.

TR leaving his spurs on his cowboy boots even when he isn't wearing them cause that's how mom does it.

Wearing the pink of my nylon rope.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I'm 95% sure that 910 isn't bluffing, and I don't want to find out for myself.  Everytime I step into a pasture or corral with her, her head comes up and she follows my every move.  I sure wish she would come up open!

I love Marie Calendar's Chicken Potpies.  Possibly it is because they are pie?  I don't know, but I love them like a fat kid loves cake!

I'm proud of the fact that my boys are morning people.  They wake up early.  Some days they wake up entirely too early.  I would rather have boys that wake up in the morning instead of kids that you have to drag out of bed at 7 a.m.!

We shipped out Cow number 111 this morning.  (She is the one that got me down and stomped all over me this winter while the Cow Boss laughed.  He PROBABLY wouldn't have laughed if I got hurt, but I was sore for a few days!)  I'm not gonna lie, I did do a happy dance when the vet pregged her open (twice just to be sure....I think the Cow  Boss liked her).  I would have celebrated today if I didn't feel so sick!

If anybody needs me, I am snuggled up on the couch with a rat terrier and a cup of tea, watching PBS cartoons, wishing I had some chicken soup!

Monday, September 16, 2013


This last week has been a butt kicker for sure!  I had hoped that with school starting things would slow down and we would find a little bit of a routine.  Apparently our routine is running.  Running and waiting.  Run to the bus and wait for the bus to get here.  Run home and work frantically on college stuff, cow stuff, cinch stuff, and wait until it is time to run to the bus.  Run to the bus and wait for the bus to show up.  Lots of hurry and wait.

This past weekend we did take in the Van Norman and Friends Stock Horse Challenge, and Horse Sale. After promising the Cow Boss I WOULD NOT buy a horse.....

Meet "Pistol."

He is a 2013 Playgun baby.  If you follow horse blood lines at all, he goes back to Freckles Playboy and Doc O'Lena on the top side, and Doc Tari on the bottom with some Chex thrown in somewhere.  He's a cute little guy, and is registered as a Gray, so fingers crossed he will change.  Looking at his face I think he might.  But when you see all of him.....

I'm not so sure.  He is pretty dark.  I'm hoping he will have a little size to him.  Today we are considering keeping him a stud and breeding him, but obviously that is a long ways down the road!  These pictures aren't the best, you can expect some better ones in a week or two.  So far he is a kind, curious, friendly little guy, I hope he stays that way!

TR is finally thinking he likes school, but mom isn't sold on his teacher and has some reservations and concerns about how things are going.  I've had a few sleepless nights and a tension headache you wouldn't believe these last few days.  I'm hoping to meet with the principal in the next day or two to get things fixed.  Not sure what the out come will be, but I am trying to be optimistic we will get things fixed and he will have a good year where he is successful and enjoys it!

For today's Meat Eater Monday, I would like to share with you a great crockpot recipe that I got from my mom.  The great thing about crockpot recipes is that you can easily convert them to oven recipes if you don't have a crockpot, and the thing I like is that they are so convenient for these long fall days shipping, pregging, or processing cows!  I have had grand intentions of using my crockpot more on these days I am teaching in the evenings as well.

Work Person's Pot Roast

1 Roast, can be any size as long as it fits in your pan or crockpot, and beef or lamb
1 pkg. Lipton Onion Soup Mix
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 can Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Section of Fresh Garlic

Place roast in the center of a large sheet of aluminum foil (if using the oven), or directly in the crockpot (I use crockpot liners because they make clean up so much easier!).  Cut slits into the roast and push in cloves of garlic.  Pour soup over roast and Worcestershire.  Sprinkle with dry soup mix.  Add Salt and Pepper to taste.  Seal in foil (if using oven).  Bake at 250* (for oven) or on low (if using the crockpot) from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The roast literally falls apart and has a great flavor.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Meat Eater Monday: Should I be Concerned with Hormones in my Beef?

Let's start with a question?  Are there hormones in meat?  Yes, yes there are, but there are also hormones in you and me, milk, and even in cabbage.  But we do not need to be concerned about them.

"Cattle have been receiving hormone injections for well over 50 years and in fact it is well regulated, monitored carefully, & proven safe. Currently, over 90 percent of the cattle fed in the U.S. receive a hormone implant during growth and this usually occurs as the animal enters the feedlot. The effect of the hormone implant will have worn off well before the animal is shipped to market, basically meaning that the effectiveness of the hormone implant will have terminated well before the animal is slaughtered.  Therefore, residues and/or traces of this hormone implant is not an issue."  Are There Hormones in Meat 2013.  We would not inject our animals with anything that is potentially harmful to people, or our cattle.  

Hormone implants essentially give naturally occurring hormones in cattle a boost.  They help speed up the rate in which feed is converted to muscle.  As you know, muscle is what we are eating when we eat meat.  This means we are feeding them less, and they are producing more meat at a quicker pace.  There is no reason to be concerned at all.  The hormone levels in beef produced using growth hormones are well within range of naturally occurring levels in the animals themselves.  

With that in mind, go out and enjoy a steak!  =)

Now that the weather is finally cooling off a little, here is a great easy recipe for Taco Soup.  Not sure where it originated from, but it is super easy, and tastes delicious!  You can cook it on the stove, or toss it all in the crockpot and forget about it.  It is just right for a cool fall day.

2 lbs. Ground Beef
1 Chopped Onion
3 cans Chopped Green Chilies
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper
16 oz can Pinto Beans
16 oz can Kidney Beans
16 oz Black Beans
1 pkg. Taco Seasoning
1 1/2 c. Water
1 pkg. Ranch Dressing mix
3 lg cans Tomatoes
Tortilla Chips
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Brown beef and onion in a skillet.  Drain beans.  Add all ingredients except cheese and chips to a large stockpot or crockpot.  If cooking on stove top, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.  If cooking in a crockpot, cook on low about 4 hours, or all day.  Serve with chips and cheese.